MINEOLA -- Rikkilyn Hass threw close to 150 pitches in Friday's 6-5 nine-inning, Class 3A bi-district playoff win against Spring Hill.

It was career win No. 100 for the senior ace, but there's not a lot of time to celebrate. Game 2 in the best of three series will be played at noon in Spring Hill.

That will be Hass' game to start as well.

"Ibuprofen helps, but I can go and go as long as my team keeps pushing me," the UT-Tyler signee said. "I could never give up on them, and I couldn't have done this without them. I'm really glad that this is my fourth year and that's when I got my 100th win. I can share it with every team that I've played with."

Mineola's Kassy Skinner makes contact on what would be a leadoff triple for Mineola in the fifth inning. (© Christopher R. Vinn ETSN.fm)

The 100th win gave Mineola -- the state runner-up last season -- a 1-0 series lead against Spring Hill. But it was a game that could have gone either way.

A Lady Panthers' middle infielder bobbled a ground ball just enough for the Lady Jackets to squeeze out the winning run. The Spring Hill defense had played a very strong game up to that point.

With two outs in the bottom of the ninth in a 5-5 game and runners on first and second base for Mineola, one-hole hitter Manda Wilmoth batted up the middle.

By the time Spring Hill recovered, there was not a play. Wilmoth had raced to first and freshman Sydnie Bell well on her way home from second.

The final plated run came one at-bat after McKenna Warnick was tagged out at the plate on a fielder's choice.

"I knew that I had to get a hit," Wilmoth said. "Our freshman had stepped up and gotten on base and I knew I couldn't leave the two on base. I thought there was an out at second and I was just trying to run my hardest to first base. But then I heard everyone yelling and I was like, 'Oh, thank God!'"

There were earlier chances, too.

Mineola had the chance to put the game away in regulation, up 5-3 entering the top of the seventh.

Spring Hill put together back-to-back hits to start that inning, including pitcher Hailie Gilbert's RBI triple. Madison Haney batted in Gilbert to tie the game before Hass settled to close the inning with a ground ball and strikeout looking.

The Lady Jackets had to earn that lead before it evaporated.

Spring Hill's Hailie Gilbert pitched a strong game on the mound and helped the Lady Panthers force extra innings with an RBI triple Friday. (© Christopher R. Vinn ETSN.fm)

Spring Hill jumped ahead 3-0 in the top first. Mineola tied the game in the bottom of the first and added one run apiece in the fourth and fifth innings.

"The funny thing is their district and our district match up really well," Mineola head coach Rheagan Penn said. "Both districts brought out four teams that are pretty strong. It's going to be a dogfight for everyone in our district, including us."

Hass slept and will try to close out the series today in Game 2. She allowed nine hits and three walks in the extended game but also dished out eight meaningful strikeouts.

"A very long outing, and that's going to make it even tougher," Penn said. "But she's a tough kid who is going to battle back and be fantastic. She's going to be fine. She's going to start Game 2. No question about it."

Mineola took a big half step in its goal to return to the state tournament despite from key losses and a relatively young squad.

The Lady Jackets are one win away from a return trip to the area round.

"Our freshmen have done a great job," Penn said. "When we started this season, they were a little nervous just because they know the expectations that have been set here and what's expected of them. Tonight was probably the first time they've shown a little bit of nerve.

"We've got them pinned against the wall. Their spirits are down a little bit. That's a tough loss for them, but it's a huge win for us momentum wise."

Mineola's Rikkilyn Hass, left, and Sydnie Bell celebrate after the 6-5, nine-inning win against Spring Hill. (© Christopher R. Vinn ETSN.fm)

 

Mineola 6, Spring Hill 5 (9 innings)

Class 3A Region II Bi-District Playoff Series -- Game 1

At Mineola High School

Spring Hill             300    000    200    --    5    9    0
Mineola                 300    110    001    --    6    15    0

Pitchers and catchers
  • Spring Hill: Hailie Gilbert and Madison Haney.
  • Mineola: Rikkilyn Hass and Morgan Catron.

 

WP -- Hass.
LP -- Gilbert.

 

Doubles
  • Spring Hill: Madison Martin.
  • Mineola: Sister Green, Manda Wilmoth.
Triples
  • Spring Hill: Gilbert.
  • Mineola: Kassy Skinner.